Xinjiang scores on the national stage at last

Updated: 2013-09-17 08:48

By Sun Xiaochen in Shenyang and Cui Jia in Urumqi (China Daily)

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A girl in a boy's world

Few of their opponents guessed it, but the No. 5 primary school team featured a female player in several matches during the summer tournaments.

When she is kitted out in the team jersey, short-haired Akdan Ali, 11, could easily be mistaken for a boy. "There is no competition for her in the girls' league. She has trained with the boys and is now better than some of them," said Yalimemet, his voice swelling with pride.

Xinjiang scores on the national stage at last

Akdan Ali (center), 11, was the only female player in the No 5 primary school team during the summer tournaments. Yao Tong / for China Daily

To improve the conditions for training, the school covered its concrete training field with plastic cement during the summer break.

Akdan hopes the new field will reduce the number of injuries suffered in training. "I often ended up bleeding after sliding tackles on the concrete, but tackling the boys is a lot of fun."

Azmet Arken said striker Akdan is the queen of the team. "I enjoy playing alongside her. We are good partners."

After returning from his stint with Bayern Munich, Yalimemet realized the fundamental importance of education for the players. "Only intelligent people can play soccer well. Many players in the champion team are ranked first or second in their classes. They won't be allowed to train if they fail their exams."

"I will join the national team when I grow up, then China will win the World Cup," said Azmet seriously, clutching his gold medals tightly.

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